Life in the Parish
A distinctive feature of Catholic life in the parishes before Vatican II were the Sodalities and Societies. These groups offered people spirituality, community and often encouraged some form of service within the local community.
The first was the Sodality of the Children of Mary, founded in 1875 in Rockhampton with Miss Florence O’Reilly as the first president. In the following years, the Holy Name Society (for men), the Sacred Heart Society (for women) and the Holy Angels followed. An Altar Society formed to provide the necessary items for Mass and to decorate and care for the altar.
In 1946, the Catholic Daughters of Australia were initiated in Rockhampton, and in 1974 they changed its name to the Catholic Women’s League. At present, there are ten branches across the diocese.
Young Christian Workers was established in Australia in 1941 as an apostolate of young people. This movement was dedicated to winning the world of working youth to Christ. Its role was to get young people together whether it be at a meeting, games night or dance and give them a set of values for life. It was very active in the Diocese at Bundaberg, Biloela, Emerald, Mackay and Rockhampton from the 1950’s to 1970’s and had a deep effect on the lives of many people.
With the changes following Vatican II some of the sodalities largely died out. In their place parishioners now have much more responsibility within the life of the parish, with involvement in works like visitation to the sick and housebound and membership of parish finance and pastoral committees. Much of the non-sacramental work that was formerly done by the parish priests is now the domain of the laity.